Man, I’m just not sure how I feel about Battalion 1944 after many, many hours in its virtual battlefields full of madly bouncing soldiers careening through the air while they carefully take aim, a truly stunning recreation of what the Second World War was actually like. Yes, what they teach you in school is simply untrue; the Allies won the war purely through an incredible tactical innovation where their snipers would leap into the air and around corners, gunning down all that opposed them.
As a member of the kilted nation known as Scotland, I’ve always felt that me and my kin don’t get much representation in video games, our brief appearances usually being limited to some swearing or a heavily stereotypical character who loves drinking fighting and is ginger. But Wulverblade seeks to put Scotland in the limelight, specifically, our history against the mighty Roman Empire where the Pictish people held against the best the Romans could offer before Hadrian’s wall was constructed and Rome decided it just wasn’t going to be worth the bloody effort.
I don’t often cover titles in Early Access, but the simple fact is that these games, which are still in development, are asking for customers money, and thus it might be worth covering at least some of them. Numantian Games latest effort has gotten itself a pretty big following so far, so let’s take a look at it.
They Are Billions takes a few things and mashes them together, fusing a rather pretty steampunk aesthetic with RTS mechanics and then mixing in masses of rotting zombies for good measure. There’s nothing particularly new under the hood of this Early Access hit, but so far its RTS mechanics and tower-defense vibe have been executed very well.
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter starts with a warning about how it’s a story-driven experience that doesn’t hold your hand, a rather bold claim given how there’s a substantial portion of gamers who will actively dislike a game if they deem it to be patronising or being too intent on gently guiding the player through its world and mechanics. I was instantly intrigued by this message; did it mean The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, a game that was originally released in 2014 and has only just made it to Xbox One, was going to be full of challenging puzzles that taxed the mind? Would it have a vast world full of mysteries into which you were dropped with no real direction? So many questions.
Flying games are a bit of a rare breed on console, so when one turns up its hard not to get a little excited about leaping into the cockpit and shooting down some unlucky pilots. This one from developer Ace Maddox was actually released on PC back in 2017, so its had a lot of feedback since then and plenty of time for changes to be made before its Xbox One debut on January 12th.
Describing a game as a mash-up of other titles is often regarded as lazy writing, and I should know because I do it all the time. However, sometimes it’s appropriate because Spellforce 3 is Baldur’s Gate meets Age of Mythology and in its mixture of RPG leveling and RTS base-building you can find mechanics taken from numerous games from across the years. It’s like a Frankenstein’s monster, all stitched together, a little rough around the edges, prone to getting in trouble with local villagers and yet has a heart of gold. Or at least, the heart of somebody.
Sometimes games can be difficult to talk about coherently. Take Seven: The Days Long Gone, for instance; there were times when I was genuinely enjoying its open-world stealth-RPG mechanics and unique world, and yet there were also other times when I utterly hated it. It can be pleasingly willing to let you figure things out for yourself, and it can be annoyingly vague about many things. Its parkour can let you smoothly slide into a heavily patrolled area, and it can be breathtakingly clumsy in its controls. This new game from a bunch of ex-Witcher developers is one hell of a mixed bag from start to finish, and it feels like every 30-seconds of gameplay is a rollercoaster.